Conventional wisdom holds that a fan will do OK at the racetrack if he or she grabs a tip sheet or a local newspaper and follows the picks of the pros. That may or may not be so, but it is not nearly as much fun as making your own selections and trying to outsmart everyone else at the track. This is the essence of pari-mutuel betting: each bettor is betting against all the others making the same type of bet.


101 - Meet The Players Learn about the people and animals that make up this fascinating sport of kings.
102 - How To Wager Start here for the basics on how to place a bet.
103 - Types of Races Should you bet on a Stakes, Maiden or Claiming?
104 - Beginner Tips Get a start on some of the main points to consider when betting.
105 - Reading The Daily Racing Form or Program Three tutorials on how to read the racing program
106 - Money Management Manage your risk and enjoy the day.

Pari-mutuel means that bets by race fans go into a common pool, which is then distributed to the winning ticket-holders after the track's takeout for the race's purse, taxes, and track profits, is subtracted. The more fans holding a winning ticket, the less the pay-out will be. This spawned the term "favorite", which is used to describe the horse that has taken the most money. However, favorites win only about 30 percent of the time. It makes sense for the bettor to study the program with the day's racing information before making a pick.

Picking winners at the track is one of the most fun and exciting forms of entertainment around, as long as you bet with your head. Those who want to minimize betting risk should stick to less aggressive bets. Those looking to "hit the big one" usually opt for the exotic wagers, such as a trifecta or a pick three. All bets can be fun and profitable if managed correctly. Like playing the stock market, the key words are money management, performance, and value. Use the section below to aid your understanding of betting terminology and rules.

And remember, never bet more than you can stand to lose.

Straight Betting:
The minimum straight win, place or show wager is $2. The final winning prices are all based on a $2 wager. For example, if you bet $10 to win, and the win price was $5.00, you would collect a total of $25. The math works like this: [$10(amount bet) multiplied by $5.00(winning payoff) divided by $2(minimum bet denomination) = $25.00].

Win - Your horse must come in first. (On average 30% of favorites win.)

Place - Your horse must come in first or second. (On average 45% of favorites win or place.)

Show - Your horse comes in first, second, or third. (On average 65% of favorites win, place or show.)

Across the board - You are betting win, place and show on one ticket. You'll collect all three pay-outs if the horse comes in first; place and show if the horse comes in second, and show only if the horse comes in third.

How to Place a Straight Bet
Step 1: State the race number
Step 2: State the amount of the wager
Step 3: State the type of bet
Step 4: State the horse number(s)

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For example, if you want to bet $10 to win on the No. 7 horse in the third race, go up to the pari-mutuel clerk behind the window and say, "Third race, ten dollars to win on number 7." If you want to impress your friends with your grasp of the terminology, simply say "Race 3, $10 win on the 7."

Approximate Payoff for a $2 Win Bet

Odds Pays Odds Pays
1-9 $2.20 2-1 $6.00
1-5 $2.40 5-2 $7.00
2-5 $2.80 3-1 $8.00
1-2 $3.00 7-2 $9.00
3-5 $3.20 4-1 $10.00
4-5 $3.60 9-2 $11.00
1-1 $4.00 5-1 $12.00
6-5 $4.40 6-1 $14.00
7-5 $4.80 7-1 $16.00
3-2 $5.00 8-1 $18.00
8-5 $5.20 9-1 $20.00
9-5 $5.60 10-1 $22.00



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